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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Overtime Pay, Bonuses, Firefighter Benefits and More

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The Office of Personnel Management on Monday issued a final rule that would extend health care benefits to part-time federal firefighters. The rule affects thousands of emergency personnel brought on to handle wildfires every year.

President Obama directed the change in 2012.

Agencies will be able to give employees slightly larger bonuses in 2017 after a six-year freeze on performance awards, according to new guidance from the Obama administration. GovExec’s Kellie Lunney has the story here.

Feds eligible for overtime might have noted that on Monday, OPM proposed revisions to regulations associated with the Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify coverage under the law and to ensure that intended overtime protections are fully implemented. Those changes look increasingly unlikely, however, as the Trump administration seeks to roll back many regulations from the Obama era.

As Politico pointed out:

House Republicans are currently in the process of making lists of regulations that fall within their time frame and could potentially be repealed early next year. One of the major ones they’re eyeing is Obama’s overtime rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half to employees who make under roughly $47,000. The rule is set to go into effect Dec. 1 and will be a top priority for Republicans to reverse, multiple sources said.

Lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee aren’t happy about  OPM plans to reduce the number of required governmentwide questions on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey from 45 to 11. In a letter to OPM acting director Beth Cobert, they wrote that the change “raises the prospect of undermining Congress’ ability to assist the federal workforce.”

The changes also could undermine agency performance, the lawmakers contend, because the changes would make it more difficult to understand employee engagement and satisfaction.  

And finally, because it’s Thanksgiving week and this is something to be thankful for, a big shoutout to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, which surpassed its goal of donating $12 million to Alzheimer's research in 2016.

NARFE National President Richard G. Thissen said, “All of our members know someone who has had Alzheimer’s—a family member, friend or acquaintance—and many of our members have been Alzheimer’s caregivers. They know first-hand the toll Alzheimer’s takes and how important it is to find a cure. We are proud to  help fund vital research that will lead to a world without Alzheimer’s.”

According to a statement from the group, members from NARFE’s 10 regions meet each year and, with the help of experts from the Alzheimer’s Association, select research projects to fund. NARFE has funded 71 projects since 1985. The donation program is strictly voluntary.

Separately, NARFE members who formed teams to participate in local Alzheimer’s walks contributed an additional $41,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association this year, Thissen noted.

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